Trends appear because change is a constant, and tourism has its share. What follows is a snippet of the most prevalent trends in vacation research, planning and booking.
The number of people booking vacations direct (or using online booking engines like Expedia or Travelocity) continues to increase. This is an inevitable result of everyone having greater online access to airlines, resorts, lodging properties, services and vacation amenities. Not necessarily great news for travel agents, but, because of technology, it’s now what we do.
The use of hand-held mobile devices to explore vacation options is skyrocketing and is certainly partly to blame for the rise in direct bookings. We’ve seen research that says as much as 70 percent of shoppers’ “first contact” with vacation destinations is from their mobile device. And, why not? The technology is in your hand, with instant 24/7 connectivity to your dream vacation. Having a tough day? Just pull up the website of an alluring destination and imagine yourself in the picture. Ahhhh.
Who are the biggest vacation spenders? Sophisticated market analytics can break down customer spending habits into finite generational sub-categories. But on balance, the middle-aged group between their 40s and mid-60s bring in 60 percent of tourism revenue, while the “millennials” (adult children of the baby boomers) account for about 10 percent. In our family, we called it the “Bank of Dad.”
The blending of business and leisure travel continues to grow. Again, you can blame or praise technology. Most business can now be conducted from almost anywhere, so it’s a logical extension of a great convenience as long as you’re not ignoring your kids by trying to text the office from the Mad Hatter’s Wild Tea Cup ride at Disneyland. That’s a no-no.
The growing popularity of online experience reviews (like Trip Advisor) is a classic, two-edged sword. Travelers are eager to rate almost anything, especially the people that even their mother couldn’t please. This information is increasingly valuable to vacationers seeking information about destinations new to them. Still, to get the complete picture most people combine personal reviews with destination websites, printed brochures and travel planners, editorial coverage by credible travel writers, social media and good old word-of-mouth.
Another trend is the bifurcation of advanced booking times into either “well-in-advance careful planning” or “spur-of-the-moment, oh-what-the-heck-let’s-go” chaos. The latter being the result of our over-scheduled, highly stressed out lifestyles.
Finally, market research confirms what most of us learned the hard way … that the happiness factor of the female species is paramount to a successful, injury-free vacation. This is where wives and mothers take the lead and over-analyze all the necessary and important details to keep the family on plan. Thanks to her, the vacation budget, our health and safety as well as a little something-fun-for-everyone will be fully vetted before the suitcases get packed. This is why tourism marketing organizations create ads that appeal to females because they know when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.